Why have poll guidelines if ‘there is no perfect election’?

Interestingly, South Africa is a leading member of Sadc, the AU and Commonwealth — yet, its head of State has chosen to undermine these organisations’ election observer missions.

IN this world there are always those who do wrong and are ready to give all manner of excuses to shield themselves from blame.

I am sure many of us have heard of men who abuse their partners and are always quick to shift the blame to the victim accusing them of “being difficult or for starting the problem”.

Or, a person who cheats in an examination and then unashamedly declares that “they are neither the first nor the last to commit such an offence”.

I am pretty sure we are all guilty of hiding, at some point in our lives, behind a finger after doing something wrong and found it convenient not to take responsibility for our own misdeeds and nefarious acts.

Nonetheless, it is even worse when there are people who come to the defence of, and make excuses for, those who would have done wrong — always ready to protect them from accountability.

Those are the worst — as they feed and encourage this malfeasance and misconduct.

This only serves to aggravate and worsen the deviant behaviour — since the wrongdoer feels they can always count on such people's protection.

These thoughts played out in my mind after coming across a report that South African president Cyril Ramaphosa made a statement to the effect that “there was no perfect election anywhere in the world”.

This was in apparent reference to Zimbabwe’s grossly flawed August 23 and 24 harmonised elections, which were roundly condemned by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), the African Union (AU), Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa, Commonwealth and European Union — far falling short of both local laws and regional/international guidelines on elections.

Interestingly, South Africa is a leading member of Sadc, the AU and Commonwealth — yet, its head of State has chosen to undermine these organisations’ election observer missions.

Further to this, he has chosen to subvert the Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections set by Sadc.

I am really not sure whether or not Ramaphosa was merely playing to the gallery and said what he said as leader of the African National Congress (ANC), a bosom buddie of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party.

I am saying so because ANC is known, or rather notorious, for making pronouncements and taking stances which are largely superficial and cosmetic and are not implemented by government.

This is more pronounced in its supposed staunch support for the Palestinian cause for self-determination — even going as far as openly and unreservedly condemning the Israeli government and calling for sanctions and a boycott of its products.

However, in essence, the South African administration has never taken a firm stance against Israel, neither has it backed the Palestinians in any tangible manner.

I have come to understand that what the ANC says and does is far divorced from what the South African government says and does.

The governing party is an expert at saying all the right things, usually in order to please its “allies and friends” — nonetheless, this is never translated into government policy.

This is precisely what we are witnessing with its seemingly blind support for Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF regime and rabid hatred for the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change.

Of late, the ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has been hysterically vocal in his attacks on Zimbabwe’s main opposition — branding it (especially the leader Nelson Chamisa) a “Western or imperialist puppet”.

Of course, this is simply a regurgitation of the tired and worn-out Zanu PF narrative — which is primarily a baseless accusation intended to justify the persecution and repression of voices of dissent and disgruntlement — on the pretext of “protecting the country’s sovereignty, independence and national interests”.

Be that as it may, whether these rather unfortunate and misguided comments by Ramaphosa were mere political grandstanding (in order to placate their Zanu PF comrades) or official government policy — it is neither here nor there.

The fact remains that Ramaphosa set a very bad precedent, especially as a leader of a country expected to play a leading role on both the regional and continental stages.

There is everything wrong with defending or even justifying the flagrant violation of statutes agreed upon by the region and continent on the conduct of elections.

It is unforgivable that Ramaphosa is supporting the Zanu PF regime for spitting on the Constitution of Zimbabwe and our electoral laws.

What example is he setting for the rest of the southern African region and the continent as a whole?

Is he honestly claiming that it is alright for a Sadc member State to wilfully breach the organisation’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections — on the pretext that “there is no perfect election anywhere in the world”?

So, why were these guidelines put in place if “there is no perfect election anywhere in the world”?

Why not simply remove them and allow a free-for-all in member States — where governments and opposition parties can do what they see fit, either to retain or attain power?

Why not let ruling establishments steal elections, force people (using threats and violence) to vote for them, and refuse to be held accountable?

Why not look aside as fed up opposition players or power hungry military commanders unconstitutionally overthrow sitting governments?

Ramaphosa is actually encouraging anarchy in the region and on the continent.

In his own words, it is perfectly legitimate to violate a country's Constitution in pursuit of power because no one is perfect!

Ramaphosa needs to take a good long look at himself and introspect on whether what he said is expected of someone regarded as a regional and continental leader.


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